eBULLETIN - October 2017

Contents

Highlights

Case Summaries

Statistics

Mailing List

See our Case Summaries List or Systemic Recommendations for further information about recent and past MGERC cases.

Highlights

Care and Shipping of Pets (case no. 2015-106)

The grievor was required to use his personalized funding envelope to pay for the care and shipping of his pets when he was posted back to Canada. He argued that the policy change with regard to pet care and shipping under the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program was unfair.

Schooling Accommodations Abroad (case no. 2016-051)

The grievor was transferred to Europe with his spouse and children. The children (except one) were enrolled in a private school. The Interdepartmental Working Group B refused the grievor's request to enroll his youngest child at the same school as the other siblings. The grievor indicated that this refusal ran counter to the National Joint Council's Foreign Service Directive 34 – Education Allowances. He also argued that there was no school near where he lived that was compatible with Canadian schools.

Furniture Rentals (case no. 2015-164)

The grievor received authorization to occupy military married quarters, and personnel from the Military Human Resources Centre informed him that he could rent furniture from another person. Later he was informed that the policy has changed and it required that furniture be rented from a commercial company specializing in furniture rentals. Therefore, the grievor was not entitled to be compensated for the rental of his furniture.

Case Summaries

Care and Shipping of Pets

Committee Findings and Recommendations

The grievor was required to use his personalized funding envelope to pay for the care and shipping of his pets when he was posted back to Canada. He argued that the policy change with regard to pet care and shipping under the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program (CF IRP) was unfair. He also pointed out that being forced to rely on their personalized funding envelope to pay for expenses was unfair to the lower ranks as funding available in the personalized envelope is based almost exclusively on the pay of the CAF member.

The Director General Compensation and Benefits, acting as the Initial Authority (IA), denied the grievance finding that the policy had been administered properly. The IA said that he was unable to amend or ignore the CF IRP directive as it was a Treasury Board approved policy, but he did express regret that there was no grandfathering clause related to the benefit change.

The Committee found that from a policy perspective, the provisions of the existing policy were correctly applied to the grievor and he was not entitled to reimbursement from his customized funding envelope.

However, the Committee also found that there was unfairness in the policy change as members of the CAF were being treated differently than their counterparts in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Public Service. The Committee also found that the manner in which the policy changes were implemented did not minimize the impact on CAF members as claimed, in that there was no protection or transition measures put in place in regard to the policy changes. Finally, the Committee agreed with the grievor that the posting allowance was unfair because it was a rank and pay based allowance and there was no justification for this.

Final Authority Decision

The FA, the Chief of the Defence Staff, found that he did not have the authority to grant the remedy sought and he did not agree with the Committee's recommendation to grant redress by seeking TB approval to retroactively change the benefit, as well as to review all similar cases. The FA concluded that changes to the CF IRP were brought as part of the CAF's effort at deficit reduction, unfortunately without reflection on the second order effects. He stated that with a number of benefits having moved from the custom to the personalized envelope, the latter most often being solely comprised the Posting Allowance (PA), this resulted in the PA being used to offset moving expenses rather than its stated intent of providing an extra benefit for the disruption that relocation causes. As such, the FA agreed with the Committee that reimbursement of the high expenses related to moving pets OUTCAN should not come from the personalized envelope. He directed the Chief of Military Personnel develop a TB submission to rectify the issue going forward.

Schooling Accommodations Abroad

Committee Findings and Recommendations

The grievor was transferred to Europe with his spouse and children. Except for the youngest, the children were enrolled in a private school. However, since the youngest child had to enrol in school the year after the grievor's transfer, Interdepartmental Working Group B refused the grievor's request to enrol the child at the same school as the other siblings.

The grievor indicated that the refusal to authorize enrolment of his youngest child in the same school as the child's siblings ran counter to the National Joint Council's Foreign Service Directive (FSD) 34 – Education Allowances. He also argued that there was no school near where he lived that was compatible with Canadian schools.

The initial authority rejected the grievance. He explained that the public schools near the grievor's home were compatible with Canadian schools. He therefore concluded that the youngest child could be enrolled in one of the schools authorized by Working Group B.

The Committee concluded that the grievor had not demonstrated that the curriculums in the schools where Working Group B had authorized him to enrol his youngest child were incompatible with the curriculum in Canadian schools.

That said, the Committee concluded that the FSD did not provide for reimbursement of fees for sending the youngest child to the same school as the older siblings.

The Committee therefore recommended that the grievance be denied.

Final Authority Decision

The CDS disagreed with the Committee's recommendation to deny the grievance. The CDS was of the view that a number of factors beyond the grievor's control resulted in having to enlist his youngest child in the same school has his siblings. The CDS found that the grievor was treated differently than Public Service employees posted to the High Commission in question, which only retained schools offering an education assessed at a given level of quality. Although this was not entirely in line with the practices of Working Group B, the latter nonetheless approved concurring requests while it had refused the grievor's request. According to the CDS, the directorate responsible for the management of dependant education had erred in finding that the school in the grievor's neighborhood was offering a curriculum compatible to Canadian schools on the basis that it had recently been taken over by a foundation which enjoyed a more favourable reputation, as important changes clearly could not be immediately implemented. The CDS invoked the special powers of the Minister of National Defence under CBI 10.2.02(1) and ordered CMP to pay the education allowance to the grievor for his youngest child. He also ordered CMP to clarify the rules for selecting educational institutions in light of his decision as to ensure equitable treatment between Public Service employees and members of the CAF.

Lastly, the CDS found that the request with regard to transportation of his dependants meets the spirit of FSD 30.8.5, thus order CMP to reimburse the grievor for the taxi transportation costs he incurred.

Furniture Rentals

Committee Findings and Recommendations

n 2010, the grievor was given an imposed restriction posting. He received authorization to occupy military married quarters, and personnel from the Military Human Resources Centre informed him that he could rent furniture from another person. In 2014, he was informed that, since 2012, the policy required that furniture be rented from a commercial company specializing in furniture rentals and he was therefore not entitled to be compensated for the rental of his furniture since that time. The CAF proceeded to recover the amounts claimed and paid to the grievor since January 2012. The grievor maintained that he was never informed of the policy change. He also challenged the recovery period, saying that the policy came into effect in 2013.

The Initial Authority (IA) stated that, although the policy in its current form was issued in 2013, the changes were published and came into effect in 2012. The IA also indicated that it was a Treasury Board policy and that the CAF does not have the authority to not comply with it. The IA denied the grievance.

The Committee noted that the rule stipulating that furniture had to be rented from a commercial company had been in effect before the policy change in 2012, as it was clearly set out in a memorandum. However, the Committee recognized that the directive was not clear on the matter. The Committee pointed out that the message announcing changes to the directive specifically provided that no change had been made, whereas the new version of the policy now included guidance on furniture rental allowances. The Committee found that the Military Human Resources Centre failed in its duty to correctly inform the soldier, as the grievor's claims continued to be approved. For these reasons, the Committee recommended that the grievor's file be sent to the Director, Claims and Civil Litigation, so consideration be given to financially compensate him for his furniture rental costs.

Final Authority Decision

The CDS agreed with the Committee's finding that the grievor had been aggrieved, but did not concur with the Committee's proposed redress measure. Invoking the special powers of the Minister under CBI 208.801, the CDS ordered that recovery be ceased and that the grievor be reimbursed for the furniture rental allowances that were recovered from his pay account for the period from 1 January 2012 to this day.


Statistics

Category of grievances received since 2015 as of September 30, 2017
Categories of grievances 2015 2016 2017
Careers 33% 50% 63%
Harassment 3% 4% 3%
Medical and Dental Care 4% 1% 3%
Other 6% 4% 4%
Pay and Benefits 49% 35% 21%
Releases 5% 6% 5%

Note: Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Distribution of the Findings and Recommendations (F&R) by category of grievance for the period between January 1, 2017 and September 30, 2017
MGERC F&R Aggrieved Not Aggrieved
Recommend No Remedy Recommend Remedy Recommend No Remedy Recommend Remedy Recommend Grievance Be Denied
Releases 0 2 0 0 4
Pay and Benefits 0 13 1 0 12
Others 0 2 0 0 1
Medical and Dental Care 0 1 0 1 2
Harassment 0 0 0 0 2
Careers 2 34 0 1 26
Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) decisions received between January 1, 2017 and September 30, 2017
  CDS agrees with Committee's F&R CDS disagrees with Committee's F&R CDS partially agrees with Committee's F&R Withdrawn at CDS level
  64% 19% 10% 6%

Note: Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.

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